I have been watching as many companies are introducing their version of electric boards are coming out all of which have their unique twist to the same idea. I too have been wanting to build one for years now. I had no idea where to start so I started watching different YouTube videos which just fueled my desire to build my own. I had never ridden a long board much less a skateboard at this point and knew that if I were serious about strapping on a powered board to my feet, I’d better learn how to ride one.
To learn how to ride one I needed to get one, obviously, so I found a used mountain board someone was willing to sell me. I liked the idea of a mountain board over the long board because of the wheel size and figured that it would roll over those annoying cracks in sidewalks better. After I got the mountain board I first took of the foot straps off and took it out for a ride. Well, it wasn't much of a ride the first time, but did start getting familiar with it.
I took it up and down my street a couple times each evening for about a week before I felt comfortable to take it to the train with me to going to work. I was a little nervous letting people see me struggling to move around on the board, so I had to be able to actually ride around on before going in public with it.
Mountain boards aren't as common as skateboard, so when I took it to work the first time I felt everyone staring at it like it was something totally new. Usually I keep a low profile in public but with this board in my hands it started to become a conversation starter. I would tell everyone that the plan was to put motors on it which would spice up the conversation a little.
As I was learning how to ride the long board / mountain board I was spending a couple hours watching YouTube videos and shopping for components to do exactly what I was telling everyone that I would do and that was to power up the board. In watching other people make their electric skateboards, where there are very few videos on DIY electric mountain boards, I learned that it wasn't all that difficult to do. The mountain board though, was going to present a few more challenges and unknowns to the project, with very few options for components.
Some of my Obsacles
- Drive system: Like I had mentioned, there were lots of videos and components available for long boards but not so much for mountain boards. Nobody seemed to show how the pulley was mounted to the wheel and what the belt size was. I founds lots of pulleys that would mount to the motor but how to mount to the wheel and centering and the belt length had me spending hours online searching for information. I ended up going to Trampboards.com and bought a new rear truck, hubs and belt and pulleys so that I knew they all went together.
- Battery system: There were lots of videos on batteries but most were vague and and had some good pointers. I work as an engineer and deal with batteries a lot already so I came up with my own system using a water tight box and stacking my batteries in a 10 series through a BMS so that I could use an off the shelf hover board charger power supply rather than using a hobby charger. I'll be creating a whole blog post or multiples on this very subject.
- Driver programming: There were lots of videos showing how to do this but none seemed to show how to set up a dual motor and how the remote worked with them. I eventually got this to work after staying up late a few nights. I'm still not sure if it is set up correctly but at least it works.
- Mounting the motors: I know a few machinist and knew that I would be able to design my own but needed to wait for components before I could finish any design. The purchase options were very expensive and likely worth the cost but with some of the resources at my disposal I chose to build my own.
It is neat to think back on this little journey of how I went from not being able to ride a skateboard at all to flying 20-25 MPH on one. Life is kind of like this, you see a challenge and obstacles in the way of that challenge and it all about how you get through those obstacles to get to the destination. There is really no wrong or right way but just that you go and not give up.
Okay, so now that I’ve been using my own personally built electric mountain board, I think that it is time to start introducing you on how to get your own. (You build it or I can too, you choose). I will be creating some videos and blog post to follow this in some details and hopefully help you through some of the answers that I wish that I had when doing this project. If you have questions and are thinking of building your own or want one please feel free to comment or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org